I have always enjoyed math. All the way back to elementary school. I was that kid who, unbelievably, loved story problems. They were easy and fun for me. Maybe because I am a visual thinker. Maybe I have an inner nerd. I don’t know. When I enrolled in college, I did so as a math major. That lasted one quarter. I had a “what the hell was I thinking?” moment when the realization that I liked math but LOVED art struck me. Naturally I switched over to a fine art major. But I still find myself counting things and doing little math problems in my head many times during the day. Things like what percentage of clean glasses do I have left, and how does that match up with the remaining clean plates. Or going for a walk and figuring out the mileage by the number of blocks I’ve walked and deciding my route on the fly by how many miles I want to walk. Then when I turn for home figuring out what percentage of my walk is left. I honestly have calculations like this going in my head all the time. So it is no wonder that I loved CHARLIE PIECHART AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING PIZZA SLICE by Eric Comstock and Marilyn Sadler, and illustrated by Eric Comstock.
Firstly (because I’m and illustrator and allowed to bring up the illustrations first), the art is terrific. Eric Comstock has created a world with a a wonderfully limited and muted palette; slightly muddy aquas and reds and yellows printed on an uncoated stock. Charlie and his family (and the dog) are simply illustrated but engaging and with convincing expressions and actions. From excitement about ordering pizza,
The story is fun and rife with fractions to describe elements of the story and the mystery of the missing piece of pizza. There are six people expected to share the pizza so they order a large pizza which has twelve slices so they each will get two pieces. Then one-twelfth of the pizza goes missing! I figured out pretty quickly where it went but still enjoyed Charlie’s deducing the case and the mathematical explanations in the process. There were 5 suspects so each one was 1/5 of the suspects. But when two suspects are eliminated, each suspect is now 1/3 of the suspect pool. They knew that 1 person would not get 2 slices of pizza and Dad volunteered to forgo a slice. “But Mom shared 1/2 of 1 of her 2 slices of pizza with Dad. Mom and Dad each got 1 1/2 pieces.” These are the kind of things I think about I mentioned above. My mind would have continued with this thought something like, ‘if they each got 1 1/2 of 1/12 of the pizza, that would mean they each got 3/24 of the pizza. Or, using the lowest common denominator, they each got 1/8 of the pizza. Down form 1/6 had they both had 2 full slices.” Yeah, I know, I’m weird.
In the back of the book there is a full spread titled, “Fun with Fractions.” It has some fun illustrated examples of fractions in real life. i.e. there is a picture of 3 donuts, 2 of them have sprinkles. Thusly, 2/3 of the donuts have sprinkles. (and in my mind, 1/3 is sprinkle-less.)
This book is fun with engaging art and enough exposure to fractions to inspire math fans without scaring away math-phobes.
Now I want a donut. With sprinkles.